Beeminder Forum

Max's beeminder journal

Well done for journaling for over a year. I was wondering if you had one overarching goal? Like what is your most important long term goal? One or two things?

No, not really. I think I have a direction that I’m moving in, but there is no big audacious goal to work toward. I’m more of a processes person than a goal person, although I do think I would be more effective if I hard clearer targets.

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Extreme friction

I am now unable to visit certain websites on my phone (youtube is the big one) thanks to blockada and a custom blacklist. I have locked the app and my partner set the password, so if I want to go on youtube, I have to ask her to unlock it for me, and I must give a “good reason”. In practice, it is sort of embarassing to say “could you unlock youtube for me because I’m bored”, so I haven’t done so yet. Great success.

New goals around personal productivity

I have beem playing with some new ways of handling my todo list. Instead of my old system (+1 to my ‘todo-home’ goal if I clear the todo list for that day, so the day before I schedule things I need to get done), I was playing with having a selection of next actions, and requiring 2 of those be done each day (as well as clearing any scheduled tasks). I immediately found myself focusing on the more pleasant tasks and ignoring some important but hard ones. It also made my objective less clear, instead of knowing “clear the list and I’m DONE”, I have to remember how many next actions to do, and clear the list, and make sure there will be enough completable next actions for tomorrow etc.

I’ve killed the ‘next action’ goal and am going back to just scheduling everything for now, although I might play with some more ideas while I’m still getting the new system worked out.

I’ve got quite a lot of stuff to get done right now, so I can’t afford to fiddle around for too long!


No change in my goals this week. Making my partner pick the password to the website-blocker on my phone is working great. I’ve not used the banned websites at all since she set the password, and have been doing slightly more productive things instead!


Website blocking

In addition to still having youtube etc. blocked on my phone, I’ve started using strict workflow on chrome to block slack and email when I’m in a work pomodoro. I’m not currently using pomodoros strictly (although I have in the past, and enjoy them), but have found myself very unfocused recently, constantly checking emails and slack messages, bringing down my productivity. Blocking those websites during the pomodoro is helping, and should break the habit over time.


No changes in goals this week. It has been very busy and I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed some days, even though none of my goals are particularily challenging right now. I will try and find some time over the weekend to build a bit of a buffer so I can have a rest day on some of the goals during next week.


I posted in a different thread this week, since the topic seemed relevant to what I was thinking of writing anyway: Ideas on money in beeminder


I once again failed to enter data for my flossing and supplement goals, despite having done the tasks, and got stung. I have already requested these goals be un-derailed a number of times, and could not bring myself to do so again.
This is despite getting my phone to beep loudly at me for any beeminder notifications after 6pm. I still managed to forget!

I think the fact I was forgetting this so much points to an issue with the goals. I did not care about them anymore.

I have set them to archive for now. I am considering a few options:

  • Set the due time to mid-day, so I have to complete them in the morning, and will be less likely to forget (however, I am used to everything being due at 2am, so may be more likely to forget, especially on days when I’m far from my phone all morning)
  • Try to train myself to associate flossing/supplements with an existing habit (brushing teeth is the obvious one)
  • Do the same, and have a goal for the whole ‘evening ritual’ while I build the association

I’m leaning toward the second right now, reintroducing a goal if necessary. I think the problem was that I tended to do it anyway, so was not paying much attention to the goal, and it became just something to tick off in the evening, yet it wasn’t quite a firm habit yet, so I still ended up in the red sometimes.


Today has been entirely filled with work. I think I am going to just about manage to tick off all the red goals but one before I fall unconscious. It is only 5$ and right now I would happily pay much more than that to be able to just lie down and close my eyes.

As always, this reminds me ‘treat yellow as red’ and stay on top of things, because there will always be a few days where you just don’t have enough time to get everything done.


Two new goals this week:

  • Shave (shave regularly). Recently I have been neglecting this, and keep oscillating between a short, ratty beard and shaved. I prefer how I feel when I stick to stubbly most days. Small quality of life improvement goal.
  • Stretching. I’ve not been able to run for a number of months now, and as such, my body gets put through less range of motion, and I have fallen out of the habit of rolling out my legs in the evening. The goal is for 15 minutes of stretching a day, I have a rough routine I used to go through that should get my body feeling more resilient.

No new goals this week. For the last few weeks I have been experimenting with using beeminder from Emacs (using this package, not the one in MELPA

It has been working fine as a straight interface to beeminder. I’m not doing much in the way filtering right now, since I don’t have enough goals to make it necessary, but it is nice to be able to see my goals at any time by hitting SPC g, makes entering datapoints that much quicker.

My config is below, although not much exciting in there:

; requirements
  (use-package request)
  (use-package anaphora)

; configure
  (require 'beeminder)
  (setq-default beeminder-username "SECRET")
  (setq-default beeminder-auth-token "SECRET")

; use this to display an 'x' if the goal has data entered today
  (defun max/beeminder-display-done-marker (goal)
    (if (string= "0" (beeminder-display-string-field goal 'donetoday)) " " "x"))

; set the display format of the goal, include the done marker at the beginning
  (setq-default beeminder-goal-pp-format '(
                                           (max/beeminder-display-done-marker) " "
                                           (beeminder-display-string-field slug 20)
                                           " " (beeminder-display-string-field limsum 16)
                                           " " beeminder-display-losedate-human
                                           " " beeminder-display-rate " " beeminder-display-pledge " "))
; let it breath a little
   (lambda () (setq line-spacing 6)))

Bound to SPC g

   :states '(normal visual insert emacs)
   :prefix "SPC"

    ; etc. etc

   "g" 'beeminder-list-goals

   ; etc. etc.

Result is something like this:


I am considering hooking up my todo list to beeminder via this package, primarily by tracking time clocked against tasks, and pomodoros completed for work items (I use org-pomodoro for pomodoro tracking).

The only issue with this is that it would only work for tasks I complete on a computer, since I don’t run a full emacs on my phone, just orgzly for todo items, so I can’t clock tasks away from a computer.

Should not be a problem for work tasks, however.


No major changes this week. I derailed my reading goal last night. I had quite a lot of other tasks and goals to get through that evening, and ended up trying to get through 400 locations last thing before going to sleep. It seems that I fell asleep around 300 loc and woke at 4am to a notification letting me know I’d derailed!

I was reading “Why we sleep” appropriately.


No changes or derailments this week. The only changes I have made is to book holidays for some of my goals, since I’ll be away for a couple of weeks.

I’m feeling happy with my goals right now. I am getting things done without feeling overwhelmed, generally holding enough buffer to handle any cases where I simply can’t get things done.

I am conserned that I have weasled slightly on my ‘todo home’ goal, by rescheduling a task on the day I was meant to complete it. I rationalised it at the time, but looking back, I simply waited too late in the day before starting.

I have decided to decrease the pledge one-level, and "recommit’ mentally, in the hope that I will be able to re-sanctify the goal in that way. This is similar to my usual method (burn all my productivity systems and start afresh with something “better” – which tends to keep me on track for a few months just thanks to the novely of the new method) but less drastic. Fingers crossed.


I am currently on holiday, with all irrelevant goals on pause. No derailments yet.


Still on holiday, everything still on track.


Last day of holiday, everything starts back up tomorrow. The only change I have made is to reduce the frequency of this journal to monthly, to make sure I have enough to write about.


I derailed one goal this week (stretching) due to getting distracted half way through and forgetting to enter any data. Reminder to self: treat yellow as red!

Apart from that everything is ticking along nicely. I’m getting back into the post-holiday rhythm. I’m trying to focus more on my priorities and getting rid of some less urgent projects right now, but that is mostly around my todo list rather than my goals, which are all core habits.


New Goal

I’ve added a new goal to be in bed before 10:20. I managed to fail 3 times in a row and derail immediately, so I’m not especially hopeful I won’t derail again next week. My bedtime has been slipping further and further back, and it has knock-on effect on all other aspects of my life, so I’m going to struggle to rein it back it again.


I’ve been playing around trying to improve my focus recently, some of my notes:

(I started using these rules on 2019-06-21)
I struggle to focus on a single project, and have great difficulty finishing anything. This leaves me with my open projects that are making little progress, but take up brain space.

In an attempt to actually complete things, I am trying to create focused projects, this means:

  • Only have 1-3 on the go at a time
  • They should be small enough to be completed within 2-4 weeks
  • There should be a clear definition of done after which the project is complete, and archived

If the project is larger than this, it is broken down into chunks

Update 2019-07-05, I am already at 4 projects, and only one of them has a really clear, short-term goal. Two of them are for events that will happen in almost 1 year! Instead of ‘Event X’, I should have made them ‘Initial Planning for Event X’, which might spawn off other projects. It seems like overhead, but I think it will really help me shift these things more quickly.

I think the experiment has been useful, but I’m still not disciplined enough about really focusing on one thing until it is done. Yesterday, I considered just stopping all my goals and just hammering a few projects to get into the habit, but I still feel my current collection of habits and goals is useful enough that this would not be worth doing.

I still have a few blocks of time that I don’t use very well, especially lunch break where I could get a lot of busywork out of the way before the evening, so I am trying to fix that before doing anything more radical.

Bedtime, habits and projects, all straining at each other!


How much of a stretch is 10:20? As a new goal, pick a target that you’ll easily meet.

If you pair it with a get-ready-for-bed-now alarm/trigger, you could ratchet both items towards the real target bedtime.

Also consider changing the deadline of any goals that you’re prone to stay up late completing. That deadline should be the same time as the alarm/trigger, not of the bedtime…


Can you elaborate on your point about the deadline and alarm timing?

In this case, the bedtime goal presumably requires some preparation/relaxation time rather than just falling into bed. So any other goals that need to be done that day need to be finished by the relaxation-start time rather than the bedtime-time. I don’t know how well it generalises to other kinds of goal.

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